Month: November 2018

Take a seat, any seat: the end of the office desk

Managing Director ACT of Jones Lang LaSalle, Andrew Balzanelli, left, in the company’s Civic office, with some of the staff.Andrew Balzanelli is one ACT managing director relaxed on his return to work to find some one else in his seat.
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Framed photos of his children and pets no longer adorn the walls of his office, nor do files spill over his desk.

Ten months have elapsed since Jones Lang LaSalle, Canberra, became the first in its global real estate network to adopt activity-based working.

No one has an office. They share benches and rather than look at walls, borrow views across the office to the city’s skyline and bush landscape beyond.

Mr Balzanelli said employers liked to say people were their biggest assets, but in reality many workplaces treated them like confined cattle.

Activity-based working moved them from two work settings – office and meeting room – to a choice of eight settings including a cafe, formal work points, informal drop-in zones, meeting rooms, hush rooms and focus desks.

As more mobile phones and tablet computers link to server-stored documents in offices, activity-based working is set to replace open plan office layouts in Canberra, as it has in major banks in the bigger capital cities and throughout Europe.

Canberra professional services group Citadel managing director Miles Jakeman said now that emails and appointments on a computer were linked to phones more people would work remotely from offices.

“We’re in the process of rolling out secure enterprise-grade video conferencing onto our iPads and mobile phones to improve communication, as well as linking these mobile devices more into internet provider networks to reduce overall costs.”

Outside of his organisation, Mr Jakeman said bench-style work areas and social breakout areas were emerging more in the private sector than in the public service.

He said a Kingston advertising agency’s social break out area surrounded a pool table. This may be a leap too far for the public service trying to avoid perceptions of misusing taxpayer funds.

Government departments are looking at Jones Lang LaSalle’s operation that discards hierarchy and relies on technology, self-management and neatness.

Colliers International ACT spokesman Tim Mutton said lawyers would be the least likely to share working spaces.

Information technology consultants and advertising agencies, on the other hand, were among private sector companies contemplating activity-based working.

“Staff retention is most important in leasing. Tenants are thinking how will this space attract staff, or will it give them reason to leave?”

Jones Lang LaSalle has increased staff from 45 three years ago to an expected workforce of 100 by year’s end, yet its office space will remain unchanged for at least another six years.

“(ABW) is just starting to take off. The best day was the day we walked in,” Mr Balzanelli said.

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Chang murderer wins release, to be deported

The man who murdered heart surgeon Victor Chang will be released from jail and deported to Malaysia after the NSW Attorney-General failed in its bid to keep him behind bars.
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Chiew Seng Liew, 69, has been serving a 26-year sentence after being found guilty of shooting Dr Chang at his Mosman home in 1991.

Last month, after Liew completed his 21-year non-parole period, the NSW Parole Authority ordered Liew’s release and deportation, finding that his advancing Parkinson’s disease meant he was no longer a threat to the community and would soon be unfit to travel.

NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith appealed against the decision, arguing in court this week that the authority had failed to consider that, because Liew was going to be deported immediately, none of the normal restrictions imposed on paroled prisoners would apply.

This would have the effect of “expunging the remaining five years of his sentence”.

But this afternoon Justice Robert Beech-Jones rejected the appeal, finding that the authority had acted in accordance with the rules governing its activities.

He ordered a temporary stay of the order to release Liew so that arrangements could be made for an accompanied flight back to Malaysia.

This stay order expires on Monday afternoon, meaning that Liew must be released before this time.

Speaking outside court, Victims of Crime advocate Howard Brown said Mr Chang’s family had told him they were devastated by the decision.

“Dr Chang’s son said to me the thing that distresses him and his family the most is that Chiew Seng Liew was sentenced to 26 years, 21 years, in jail and an additional five years on parole,” Mr Brown said.

“By removing Chiew Seng Liew from the jurisdiction of Australia, what has been done is that the supervision which would normally be conducted while on parole cannot occur. So as far as they are concerned the actions of the court pervert the system of parole.

“He has failed in the 21 years of his incarceration to take place in prison rehabilitation programs in any way shape or form.

“He refused point blank to learn English, he refused point blank to participate while in custody and yet the defence claimed that that was something that should be taken as a credit to him.”

The Attorney-General said he would be reviewing the reasons of the Supreme Court.

“This is a difficult day for the family of Dr Victor Chang and my thoughts are with them,” he said in a written statement.

“We tried very hard to have the decision to grant parole reviewed and are naturally disappointed with today’s outcome. I will now read the judgment before considering our response.”

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Uproar as students dress as ‘traditional’ Aboriginal people

Cromwell College students dressed up to look like Aboriginal people.The publication of a photograph of university students at an official college function dressed up to look like “traditional” Aboriginal people, with their faces and limbs painted brown, has forced an internal investigation and rapid re-education program.
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The eight female students from the co-educational Cromwell College within the University of Queensland were depicted in the photo – taken last Tuesday – with wild hair, holding sticks and wearing material fashioned into makeshift loin cloths.

The photo made its way on to online social networking sites and quickly raised the ire of a number of indigenous Australians from around the country.

At least one contacted the college and the university directly, sparking the investigation.

“Think #racism and #blackface are unacceptable in Australia? … Let UQ and Cromwell College know,” one Twitter user wrote yesterday.

Another posted the photo again with the words included: “University of Queensland Cromwell College for aspiring racists everywhere.”

But the residential college, which is associated with the Uniting Church and was founded in the 1950s, said the students acted out of ignorance, not malice.

The Cromwell College principal, Ross Switzer, said he had called a meeting of the entire college body last night and spoken to the young women involved in the photo.

He described their behaviour as “a young person’s uneducated approximation of Aboriginal life”.

“They were not aware of the blackface mocking or demeaning indigenous people,” he said. “They were trying to give a tribute to indigenous Australians, not mock or demean them.

“I know that ignorance is no excuse for that behaviour [but] it was ignorance rather than an attempt to laugh at indigenous Australians.”

Mr Switzer said the photo was taken shortly before an annual college dinner celebrating diversity across the world and that he had, since last night, organised cultural awareness training for his 250 residents.

The dinner was centred on Thanksgiving in honour of the college’s exchange students from the US, he said.

However, the group of young women dressed to depict Aboriginal Australians went to the most trouble with their outfits, he said.

Comment was being sought from the University of Queensland.

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RBA rejects cap on home loans

A senior Reserve Bank official has rejected the case for capping how much banks can lend homebuyers, saying such a move would not quell the housing boom-and-bust cycle.
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In a bid to prevent wild swings in house prices, some countries overseas have recently toughened their restrictions on how much of a property’s purchase price can be financed by debt.

But the head of the Reserve Banks’ financial stability department, Luci Ellis, today said similar caps in Australia did not make sense, and threatened to make it harder for first home buyers to enter the market.

‘‘The cap would have to be set very low to be binding on existing home buyers who are trading up,’’ Dr Ellis said in Sydney. ‘‘First-home buyers would be squeezed out, but most buyers would be little affected.’’

Overseas experience with caps on lending had tended not to control prices, she said. Instead, caps had lowered the number of people who defaulted, because buyers would still have equity in their home if prices fell.

“The cap would not prevent boom-bust cycles in housing prices,” she said.

Lower default rates were ‘‘not a bad thing,’’ Dr Ellis said, but the primary task of regulators was to ensure the economy’s stability, rather than to shield banks from lower default rates.

Countries that have caps on borrowing include Hong Kong, which in late 2010 required all properties costing $HK8 million to $HK12 million ($1 million – $1.5 million) to have loan-to-valuation ratios no greater than 60 per cent.

In Australia, by contrast, banks can lend home buyers more than 90 per cent of the purchase price.

The comments come amid ongoing concern about the high level of mortgage debt in Australia – with latest figures showing household debt is worth 150 per cent of income.

Despite playing down the need for caps on lending, Dr Ellis acknowledged the need for homebuyers to save a deposit.

‘‘People need to provide some deposit when they buy a home. It protects them if something goes wrong for them, like a job loss or illness, especially if it happens at the same time that housing prices are falling,’’ she said.

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Cummins happy to put off Test comeback

AS teen pace sensation Pat Cummins returns to the scene of his dream Test debut this week, the youngster has said he wants to notch some Shield games under his belt before he makes his next appearance in the baggy green.
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The 19-year-old, who is lining up for Sydney Sixers in this month’s Champions League Twenty20 tournament in South Africa, said he wanted to be confident of his match fitness prior to being thrust back into the Test spotlight.

Cummins broke down during his man-of-the-match performance on debut in South Africa last November after being selected off the back of his performances in limited-overs cricket.

He remains marooned on one Test after being ruled out of the series at home against New Zealand and India last summer and missing the tour of the Caribbean.

Cummins will have just the one opportunity to play Shield cricket for NSW before the start of the series against the Proteas in Brisbane next month but, barring an injury crisis, he is unlikely to be required for the first Test, such is the current depth in Australia’s fast-bowling stocks.

“I wouldn’t want to go into a Test match without playing too much, at least there’s three or four blokes ahead of me anyway,” Cummins said.

Cummins said he wanted to “play a couple of Shield games” before he looked at a Test comeback.

According to that timeline the earliest Australians would see the youngster in the baggy green at home would be the third Test against South Africa late next month.

“I haven’t played with a red ball for 12 months,” Cummins said. “I’d say the first couple of games very unlikely.”

Cummins, however, will be a key weapon for the Sixers when they open their Champions League campaign against two-time Indian Premier League champion Chennai on Sunday.

Sixers captain Brad Haddin has urged Cummins to push the speed gun when he returns to Wanderers for the first time since his match-winning Test effort 11 months ago.

It may only be a franchise-based competition but in Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood the Sixers have at their disposal a dream next generation pace attack the envy of many.

“I’ll be saying to those guys don’t hold back, your job is to bowl fast and we’ll clean the rest of it up from there,” Haddin said.

“We’re pretty lucky this tournament we’ve got three guys who can push that radar gun quite high.

“With Pat you can get into the 150s [km/h], which is a different ball game.

“We’re actually lucky in Australian cricket we’ve got a big crop of these young quicks that are bowling and pushing the speed gun right up to where we like it.”

Cummins said he would be taking a different strategy in South Africa than the one he employed on the slower pitches in Sri Lanka during the World Twenty20.

“For me in Sri Lanka, I tried to bowl a lot of slower balls because the decks are a bit slow; over here it’s just rip in and try and bowl fast and see what happens,” Cummins said.

“I think the ball’s going to fly over here a bit more than in Sri Lanka.”

Pat Howard’s team performance staff back home will be hoping he can do that without suffering another injury to his developing frame.

Cricket Australia has dispatched fast bowling coach Ali de Winter over to South Africa to assist with Cummins and co’s preparations for the Test summer back home.

But the Sixers’ primary aim in South Africa is to take back to Sydney the $US2.5 million winner’s cheque.

“The bottom line from our point of view is we’re here as a Sixers franchise to win the tournament,” Haddin said.

Sixers coach Corey Richards said his team would work closely with Cricket Australia in monitoring Cummins’ and Starc’s workload.

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